An interesting article on Penzance and housing this last week on ‘It’s Our Cornwall’
The Cornishman reported this week that “Penzance has fewest affordable homes compared to applicants”. Except that it doesn’t. The headline is wrong. Sure, local people in Penzance and all Cornish towns need cheaper housing. A pity however that this sloppy reporting didn’t bother to check the facts.
Quite. The media are apt to repeat any old assertion that is thrown up. Stories it would appear are based on someones press release where facts are avoided or selected to support the story. Members of the public are at a disadvantage when it comes to assessing news ‘reports’. How do they know if the facts are correct or not? How much more lies behind the story which is not discussed? Is the article just repeating a story from a particular group or organisation? Does it include any critical analysis or dissection of the evidence?
There are many news reports which fail abysmally to present a meaningful picture of a situation.
How many people accept that if a newspaper article states that x thousand jobs will be created then it must be a fact?
What is implied by extra jobs? People might assume they are additional in the sense of more jobs for the existing population, not simply jobs to meet the demand from extra jobseekers.
How many people have a clear idea what the Homechoice Register (wrongly referred to as the ‘waiting list’), actually is? They might get the impression that there are 27,000 households all living in intolerable conditions.
What do people think when they hear that a site which is to be developed is brownfield? They probably envisage an area devoid of vegetation, old wrecked industrial buildings and the like. They might be surprised to find that many sites referred to as brownfield include substantial areas of greenfield – including actual green fields!
What should people do? Check the report don’t accept it as ‘fact’. Is there an alternative source of information. Challenge things if they do not look right. If you know an area check it out.
Real debate and discussion in a democracy cannot succeed without access to information!